San Gerardo was our first cloud forest visit. It was a long drive through the Cordillera de Talamanca at altitudes over 3,000 meters. The bag of chip in our rental car popped scaring everyone in the car. The road was narrow and the peaks were foggy. We found the turn off for San Gerrardo de Dota valley and headed down.
The weather was much cooler than San Jose and not humid. We arrived in time for a brief cloud forest walk. The pines, ferns, and mushrooms grew everywhere, reminded me of Point Reyes National Seashore. We slept off the jet lag, despite a night time thunderstorm, to be ready for a bird watching excursion the next morning.
By the morning, the sky was clear. Miriam’s son-in-law was our guide for our 6am bird watching tour. We drove further down the valley and found other small groups have already descended to the avocado groves. The resplendant quetzal prizes this fruit above all others and this particular grove is frequented by quetzals.
It took a bit to find our first resplendent quetzals but we were not disappointed. They are striking birds in the trogon family. Through the scope, we saw they are brilliant red and shimmering emerald. The males have the long tail streamers that are twice as long as its body. It’s no wonder the quetzal is Guatemala’s national bird.
We also saw emerald toucanets and other beautiful birds but the highlight were the quetzals.
While waiting for breakfast we watched the hummingbirds gather at her hummingbird feeder. Simply amazing.
After our tour, Miriam cooked an amazing breakfast. We wanted to buy her guyaba jam but she ran out. If we had known, we would have ordered ahead of time.
Sometimes people know when they live somewhere special. They exude pride in their work and delight in sharing their special corner of the world with you. Miriam is one of those people. She told us that most people never leave the valley. They find work in the industries in the valley: farming, fishing, and tourism. They have found their Eden and are generous to let us share in a small portion of it.